Producing recycled water

Aerial view of large tanks at treatment plant

Rouse Hill Water Recycling Plant has been operating since 2001.

Large crane and water spraying on piles of coal

Port Kembla Coal Terminal uses recycled water for dust suppression.

Most recycled water in Sydney and the Illawarra is produced at our recycling plants.

We produce recycled water and maintain our systems to meet Australian standards and guidelines.

All of our water recycling plants use multiple steps to treat wastewater so it can be safely used again. How much it’s treated depends on how the recycled water will be used.

There are four main types of treatment, plus disinfection:

  • Primary 
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary
  • Advanced tertiary
  • Disinfection.

To learn more about how recycled water is produced, see our recycled water treatment process diagram.

About sewer mining

Sewer mining is one of the many ways the NSW Government is securing our water supply for the growing population.

It's another way to produce recycled water by extracting wastewater from a local wastewater system and treating it on-site using a small treatment plant.

Recycled water is treated so it's safe to use for its intended purpose.

Recycled water produced from sewer mining is used:

  • to flush toilets in commercial buildings and at industrial sites 
  • in cooling towers
  • to irrigate sportsfields, parks and golf courses.  

Learn more

Examples of sewer mining schemes

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park  was Australia’s first large scale, urban recycling scheme to source wastewater through sewer mining. Recycled water is used for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes.

Recycled water replaces 50% of the drinking water that would otherwise be used at Sydney Olympic Park and Newington Estate.

Pennant Hills Golf Club

Pennant Hills Golf Club’s water reclamation plant produces up to 100 million litres of recycled water each year to irrigate the golf course. Previously, the course relied on drinking water for irrigation.

This sewer mining project was the first of its kind for a privately run golf club in Australia.

Workplace 6

Workplace 6, on Darling Island in Sydney, is the first commercial development in NSW with a six-star Green Star energy rating.

The environmentally sustainable office building has an on-site sewer mining facility. It produces up to 14 million litres of recycled water each year to flush toilets and irrigate two parks.


Golf buggy in front of sprinklers on a golf course

Recycled water produced from sewer mining can be used for irrigation.

16-storey office building with blue sky

Our Parramatta office uses recycled water to flush toilets.

Recycled water is now being used for non-drinking uses in some Sydney offices and commercial sites.
Our Parramatta office has a recycling plant that produces up to 40,000 litres of water every day. This reduces the building's water use by about 75% compared to similar buildings without a recycling plant.

Sydney Airport also saves drinking water by using an on-site water recycling plant. Recycled water is used to flush toilets and in cooling towers.


About stormwater harvesting

Stormwater is another source of recycled water. We work with local councils and other agencies to manage Sydney’s stormwater. We also investigate opportunities to collect and re-use stormwater.

Stormwater harvesting involves collecting, storing and treating stormwater from urban areas, which can then be used as recycled water. The stormwater is collected from stormwater drains or creeks, rather than roofs.

Recycled water produced from stormwater harvesting is commonly used to water public parks, gardens, sportsfields and golf courses.

Benefits of stormwater harvesting and re-use

Stormwater harvesting:

  • reduces the demand for drinking water  
  • reduces stress on urban streams and rivers by capturing some of the pollutants and nutrients that would otherwise enter waterways from stormwater flows
  • increases opportunities for sustainable water management. This is an important consideration in water sensitive urban design.

Learn more

Stormwater harvesting schemes in Sydney

Golfer on green in front of dam with water

Cammeray Golf Club's dam is topped up with stormwater, which is used for irrigation.

The NSW Government encourages the private sector to implement innovative solutions to secure Sydney’s water supply, particularly by recycling.

Local councils are responsible for about 95% of stormwater drainage in the Sydney region. Most stormwater harvesting schemes are locally operated.

There are a number of projects across the Sydney region that collect and re-use stormwater. We generally don't have a role in establishing or operating small local schemes. However, we'll help arrange access to the stormwater supply from our stormwater system.